Sake Allergy | Allergy

Sake Allergy

by Allergy Guy

Sake, also known as nihonshu, can best be compared to beer. It is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice.

If you think you may be allergic to sake, there are two likely possibilities. You may have a rice allergy. Or, you may have a yeast allergy.

If you have a rice allergy, you are likely to notice similar symptoms when you eat cooked or steamed rice, or when eating rice noodles.

If you have a yeast allergy, you will likely notice similar symptoms when you drink beer, wine, or eat bread.

It may be possible that alcohol makes you more sensitive to your allergens. Therefore, while you may not have a problem with rice on its own, you may have a noticeable problem when you have rice together with alcohol.

After the sake fermentation process is complete, the resulting liquid is full of rice solids, and is very clouded. Other than nigori, the product is filtered and ends up being quite clear. You may therefore have bigger problems with nigori and other types of sake.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 J. Miller August 13, 2017 at 18:23

I appreciate the resource, but I think you may have one detail a little incorrect: sake is NOT made by adding yeast to the rice mixture, but rather Aspergillus oryzae, which is a mold. Yeast and mold are both members of the fungus family, but they are not quite the same thing as each other.

So people with strictly a yeast allergy may not have trouble with sake, while those of us with mold (but no yeast) allergy do – and vice versa for other fermented items. For instance, I react to sake, but not to beer or wine (which are brewed using yeast, not mold), and I did test positive for mold allergy, Aspergillus being one of the specifics that we could actually separate out in the testing setting. I do not have a yeast allergy, either from observed reactions or from test results.

So I would suggest including mold allergy as a possibility in your list above. At least in my case, it IS the single culprit allergy.


2 Allergy Guy November 19, 2017 at 21:42

While you are correct that Aspergillus oryzae is added to rice to make sake, so too is yeast. I could be wrong but I believe the mould culture is for taste but I am not sure that it produces alcohol, where as the yeast certainly does.


3 A Matzener January 3, 2016 at 06:01


I have a yeast allergy (and a few others) and wanted to check sake; it’s good to have found the information I was looking for. Now I know I need to avoid it, too. Thanks! I did feel bad the last time I had sake. I wasn’t sure what yeast they use. I have a Saccharomyces cerevisiae allergy but I haven’t been tested for other species; I think in general, yeasts are not great for me. I have never tried kombucha for this reason.

Yeast-containing alcohols have a very big effect on me. I used to think it was the alcohol content, but now I know it was the yeast. It also explains why other people were able to take hangovers – I have a feeling mine were a lot worse because of the allergy effect.


4 Audrey VanWyk January 13, 2013 at 23:27

Eleven of us attended a ground breaking ceremony in guatamala hosted by the Japanese embassy. The ceremony concluded with mallots breaking the lid of the cast and we, an American group, toasted with everyone there. The saki was high end provided the the embassy and half of us had severe diaherra. I had severe diaherra for 5 months, loosing 50 lbs and many hospital admissions. A little over a year later I have been diagnosed as gluten intolerant. My gluten problem has been existences since I was a young girl and just researched by me in October. Could gluten have been my problem? Some wine will bother me, but not all. Why don’t medical people put symptoms together and address gluten as a probable problem. Belching, bloating, diaherra, ibs, chrones, pain in legs, acne, acid reflux that resulted in non working esophagus, stomach removed, migraines, dry eye and mouth and now at 69 i was diagnosed with CREST and no medical person put anything together. Most of my doctors are lead physicians at UPMC at Pitt in Pittsburgh! This is the 21st century.


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